Under the Constitution of 1978, Spain is a country under the rule of law, and accordingly the Spanish judicial system has undergone major changes over the past 30 years.
The Spanish Constitution of 1978 establishes that justice emanates from the people and is administered in the name of the King by magistrates and judges of the judicial branch of government – they are independent, permanent, responsible for their actions and subject only to the rule of law. The Constitution establishes the principle of jurisdictional unity as the cornerstone of the organisational structure and functioning of the court system.
Article 117 of the Constitution
1. Justice emanates from the people and is administered on behalf of the King by Judges and Magistrates of the Judiciary who shall be independent, irremovable, and liable and subject only to the rule of law.
2. Judges and Magistrates may only be dismissed, suspended, transferred or retired on the grounds, and subject to the guarantees provided by law.
The framework statute on the organisational structure of the judiciary is Constitutional Law 6/1985 on the Judiciary, which, among other matters, governs the scope and limits of jurisdiction, territorial organisation, composition and powers of judicial bodies, the governing bodies of the judiciary, judicial careers, independence and responsibility, rules on the organisational structure and functioning of the Justice Administration, and the office of the Public Prosecutor.
Organisational structure of the Spanish Judiciary | The General Council of the Judiciary
Major improvements were made to the regulation of the governing body of the judiciary under Constitutional Law 4/2013, of 28 June reforming the General Council of the Judiciary. The reform provides that members – except for those on the Standing Committee – may hold office while combining this with their professional activity. It also modifies the mechanism for electing members. Thus, any judge may be elected as a member of the General Council of the Judiciary conditional only upon the support of 25 members of the judiciary on active duty or of a legal association. Each judge or association may in turn endorse a maximum of 12 candidates. The reform provides for a council renewal system ensuring that the deadlines set out in law are met in a timely manner.
The law also establishes that although the governing body of the judiciary shall maintain budgetary independence, the first budget will be zero-based, so all of the needs of the institution must be justified before it can be drafted. This strategy is intended to contribute to the good governance and economic efficiency of the institution.
It also introduces streamlining measures affecting the organisational structure of the General Council of the Judiciary and various provisions for increasing the flexibility and efficiency of its functioning, all with a view to affirming the independence of the highest governing body of the Judiciary.
At present, for judicial purposes, the country is organised territorially into municipalities, circuits (partidos), provinces and autonomous regions.
Source: www.lamoncloa.gob.es – Ministerio de la Presidencia (CIF S-2811001-C). Complejo de la Moncloa 28071 Madrid – 02/12/2023
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